In the 1930s, “the best bar in Spain” was Ernest Hemingway’s verdict on this cocktail bar (see Museo Chicote). It was in the 1950s and 1960s, however, that Chicote became really famous, thanks to visiting celebrities such as Frank Sinatra. The bar is at its best in the late evening.
This popular watering hole (see Bodega de la Ardosa) has a pedigree going back more than 100 years. Welcoming guests since 1892, the pub was given a makeover in the 1980s and the owner claims it was the first bar in Madrid to celebrate St Patrick’s night. That was when they started serving Guinness and home-made tortilla, one of the mainstays of an enticing tapas menu. Today, La Ardosa is a popular place to enjoy a vermouth alongside an amiable clientele.
“Manuela” refers to Manuela Malasaña. The statue of the local heroine is a feature of the lovely late 19th-century decor, which includes mirrors, fluted columns and stucco flourishes. The entertainment here (see Café Manuela) ranges from concerts and poetry readings (sometimes bilingual) to discussions and exhibitions by local artists. The friendly staff serves coffee, beer, cocktails and tapas depending on the time of day.
With stylish sofas and custom-designed hanging lights, this rooftop terrace and bar (see Radio Rooftop) has some of the most outstanding views of the city, plus great cocktails and a good selection of music. A quieter lounge can be found inside, along with a VIP bar that is frequented by glamorous celebrities.
Once a classic jazz café, this bar (see Sala Clamores) is now one of the best- known places in Madrid to enjoy live music. Listen to jazz, blues, funk, or tango performances by renowned artists while sipping cocktails at this large, yet intimate club.
A Madrid institution, this large beer hall (see Cervecería Santa Bárbara) is the perfect place to unwind after a day’s sightseeing, or to begin a night on the town. Both dark beer and lager are available on draught – some Madrileños like to mix the two.
This beer and tapas bar (see Cervecería Alemana) owes a good deal of its popularity to its terrace on Plaza Santa Ana. Like Museo Chicote, the Alemana was a favourite of Ernest Hemingway and other famous expats. It serves both Spanish and imported beers.
Swing by at 1am and spot Ferraris parked outside this Philippe Starck-designed complex. Popular with Madrid’s fashionistas, this large cocktail bar (see Restaurante Ramses.Life) is perfect for people-watching, not forgetting the extensive drinks menu. There are also two restaurants and a basement club. The weekend brunch is a good hangover cure; choose a table with a plaza view.
Designed to look like a bar from the early 1900s with lovely Moorish touches, Alhambra is one of the best places to start the evening if you’re about to embark on a tour of the night spots of Sol and Santa Ana. Check out the Andalucían tapas, especially the cured meats and spicy sausage. As well as beer and sangria, there’s also a good selection of Spanish wine available.
A bar for sherry drinkers who know their fino from their manzanilla, La Venencia. opened its doors in 1929 and still does a roaring trade, especially in the evenings when tourists mingle with a loyal local following. The decor is ageing as graciously as the sherries behind the counter, and there is a good selection of canapés and tapas such as mojama (sliced, salt-cured tuna). It is as forbidden to tip, as it is to spit on the floor. Note that the bar serves sherry only.